This article was inspired by Very Smart Brotha’s “10 Randomly Specific Things to Blackness that Always tickle the Hell out of me” shoutouts to Damon Young and all the brothas at VSB.
I’m told that I first went to church when I was 8 days old. I was born on a Saturday, Lisa (aka momma) rested the next day, but when Sunday came back around her super saved self was in church with a big ass newborn. I have always been chunky and I have always been in church. Since my granddaddy was the ‘passa’ I was probably in church more than the average church goer. The black church was all I knew until my white home girl from middle school had her confirmation and invited me down to the white Catholic Church. I was amazed and confused. (I need a white contributor to the blog, affirmative action)
I have “backslid” to one service per Sunday and since Empire comes on Wednesday, I usually miss bible study. I’m gon watch via streaming faith this afternoon though. Here are 10 things that tickle me about the black church experience.
The ushers are the church’s bouncers and you want to be friends with them. For some reason, their right, (left?) hand is stuck to their back. If church is full when you show up, they will tell somebody to scoot down while looking over their glasses and show you your seat.
No, you can’t sit with your friends/family. You’ll sit where
the hell she/he told you to. Sit on your coat/jacket or put it on the floor. You can’t save seats, and put the lap scarf on she/he gave you even if your dress is down to your ankles. Don’t argue.
Get a fan or envelope when they come down the aisle. Cause if they have to come back you will get a side eye.But they will take care of you, I was distraught at my grandaddy’s funeral and the usher wiped my eyes for me WHILE fanning me. They the real MVPs.
Believe it or not, I was an usher back in my day. I quickly realized that I was not humble enough to serve in this capacity and put my white gloves up. I haven’t picked ‘em up since… ain’t going to.
My daddy and brother are musicians so I got to deal with musician foolery 7 days a week. They may have on a 3 piece suit. They may look like they are about to go hoop at the Y. They will not have the right colors on. They disappear like your baby’s daddy during the sermon (especially if your church has multiple services). They probably played down to the bar last night and will start a groove during offering and forget and slip some secular music in there.
The length of service
My church at home has combined men/women’s day (see the next one) and we were in church until 2pm that service; in large part because somebody let my mom and her sister (aka my auntie) on program. Make sure you bring a bag of grippos and your soda/juice of choice to service (there’s a store walking distance of every black church in America). You’re in it for the long haul. 10 songs, 2 scriptures, memorials, offering, prayer, 10 more songs, shouting and THEN the sermon, altar call, remarks, and benediction. I usually get a headache mid sermon.
Children’s Day, Youth Day, Young Adult Day, Men’s Day, Women’s Day, Senior Adults Day is what I grew up with. We called it “Loyalty Month” not sure why. Loyalty month is the only time we saw most of the participants. These hoes ain’t loyal.
Women’s day is coming up. The theme is “Get In Formation”. I’m probably gonna participate just out of curiosity of how we’re going to take Beyonce’s song and put Jesus on it.
The “Days” are a big production, complete with a theme, assessment ($$$) and what colors the ushers and choir are supposed to wear. There’s always one person that isn’t going to buy a new outfit and will either wear their black suit/white suit REGARDLESS of the colors (ask Lisa if she buying something. She ain’t)
Somebody’s baby is crying. EVERYBODY turns around to see who it is and why they ain’t took that baby to the nursery. As if there aren’t some grown folks that don’t want to throw a fit from sitting for 3 hours. Lots of churches have a separate service for children now. I’m pissed because I didn’t have a separate service to go to when I was a kid. I had to sit with my auntie (my mom was in the choir) and endure. Spoiled brats.
The teenagers do not want to be there and have no problem showing it.
I’m not sure the history of the mothers of the church. But a group of older women are the matriarchs of the congregation. They have their own row at my home church.
Give them the correct title, not “Sister soandso” or Mrs. “soandso” MUTHA soandso.
If your skirt is too short, a mutha will pull you to the side (maybe) and let you know. If you need a perm, a mutha will ask you when you’re getting one (even if you’ve had an afro for a year… happened to Lisa. I DARE you to ask her the story. She’ll go off) No matter how shady she is to you, you have to respond ‘yes ma’am’ and be respectful for no other reason than she’s 100 years old. I think it’s extra points in Heaven when you can stay respectful to Mutha Shadyboots. She always has her head covered in the sanctuary. Dressed impeccably, accept the shoes. She’s been on this world a few decades and is gonna put her sneakers to come to service.
The Deacon Board
I suppose this makes the Deacons the fathers of the church. They have been serving communion/Lord’s supper since the Emancipation Proclamation but still manage to argue and look confused when 1st Sunday comes around. The pastor/church’s body guards, a few of them are packing. They take the offering to God knows where and count it. Their wife is on the women’s usher board and also participates in serving the communion but knows what she’s doing.
The Kitchen Committee/Culinary Ministry
On special occasions, such as a ‘day’ or anniversary the church has a meal after service. The church pays for the meat. The members got to bring the side dishes. Everybody takes a to-go plate. The senior citizens eat first.
This is the best seasoned food you’ll ever taste. Ever. There are a dozen cakes/pies to choose from and the tea will put you in a diabetic coma. It’s made with the Holy Ghost and crack cocaine. Give yourself time to nap before evening service.
I think being mean is a requirement to work in the kitchen at church. I also had a short-lived stint in the kitchen. When I was a teenager, they had the youth help in the kitchen/dining room for some event and the saints were so IGNANT the youth refused to ever work in the kitchen again. I think that was the first boycott/protest I organized. They had 16-year-old Carrie ALL THE WAY FCKED UP. I hadn’t been saved that long.
No matter how much of an asshole you were, if you went to a black church, we’ll MAKE UP some fond memories of you to reflect on at the funeral. These services can also be very long (bring a snack). The ushers have backup in the funeral home staff. They have extra supplies (fans, peppermint, bottled water) and you AIN’T getting a program before the family comes in. If the family is large and takes up all the programs, you’re not getting a program. If the family is large and needs more seats, you may have to stand. Do what the usher says. Please. You can find one after service. Somebody left one in the pew.
You may go into a church with black people and a black pastor. There may be a picture/painting of white Jesus somewhere. There isn’t in either of the churches I go to. I’d have them take it down. White supremacy runs deep. If I talk about it any further I’ll start cussing.
Thus is my list of of 10 things that tickle me about the black church. Honorable Mention entries that I didn’t have energy to cover: The First Lady, The Church Secretary, Offering, Pastors/Church Anniversary, The politicians we see once every few years and Testimony Service.